Things I Like and Don’t Like for the Week of March 6th, 2019

It’s that time again, where I tell you what’s really grinding my gears for the week of March 6th, 2019.

Some weeks it’s mostly likes, other weeks it’s dislikes.

So what’s grinding my gears this week?

Marvel Rumors

Let’s just get one thing cleared, Marvel Comics is not being shutdown by Disney. That would just be absurd.

This does beg the question however on the latest rounds of news and gossip on the overall state of comics. They’re not wrong saying the top 100 books each month having only 20k in their print run range.

This may seem alarming but what we’re also not considering is I’m not seeing digital sales in these types of talks. Digital sales are probably minuscule in comparison to print sales but will still make up some of the numbers.

The other thing we should consider is the comic industry back in the 90s were pumping out millions of books for titles was unnecessary. I can only imagine a huge number of comics from 20 and 30 years ago made their way to landfills.

The print numbers we see now is for the most part true demand. They’re printing the amount of books based on actual orders from retailers.

So who’s to blame for the poor numbers? There’s just too many factors involved but one things for sure, how many people could be put off on the sheer amount of variants that are being produced to boost numbers? Also, the repeated reboots by the big two. Perhaps the biggest publishers should focus on better storytelling to draw in people instead of variant cover art to inflate their publishing numbers. Maybe even cutting back on the number of titles in is order as well. I can only assume the number of titles (particularly of the same team or character) could be overwhelming for newcomers to the industry and hobby.

Secret Variants

I’ve read/heard (could be a rumor) that this Wednesday, there will be another secret Marvel variant slipped into this weeks titles shipping to stores but Marvel isn’t saying which though. It’s not the polybagged secret cover for Age of X-Man Prisoner #1 though to my knowledge.

So what title or issue is getting a secret variant? The last one we saw was for Venom #7 (which by the way is heating up again due to Dylan Brock appearance, check out my earlier post on this) where the secret variant moved the barcode to the right side so they can include a tongue into the artwork.

Here’s a list of next week’s titles in alphabetical order so be on the lookout, I’m sure we’ll find out as the day approaches but what’s your guess if there is one?

Age of X-Man Prisoner X #1
Amazing Spider-Man (I hate these numbering schemes by the way)
Avengers #16
Avengers No Road Home #4
Black Order #5
Champions #3
Conan the Barbarian #4
Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #1
Deadpool #10
Domino Hotshots #1
Immortal Hulk #14
Killmonger #5
Meet the Skrulls #1
Marvel Super Heroes Adventures Spider-Man Spider-Sense of Adventure #1
Star Wars #62
Star Wars Aor Padme Amidala #1
Star Wars Vader Dark Visions #1
Uncanny X-Men #13
Ziggy Pig Silly Seal Comics #1

One More Week Until Captain Marvel

This makes me happy. I’m really looking forward to this movie until we get the next Avengers in May.

Marvel also needs to do away with Amanda Connors doing the cover art for the Captain Marvel reboot if they really want to boost sales. She’s not doing Captain Marvel any justice. I know they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but comics is an entirely different case when it comes to judging the story since the artwork plays a huge part of the book.

That’s all I got this week. What are you like or not liking this week?

68 thoughts on “Things I Like and Don’t Like for the Week of March 6th, 2019”

  1. My guess is Immortal Hulk #14. It is not based on any info at all, but just a guess.

    Also, just to add to your segment about comics readership: TPB’s make up a huge amount of readership as compared to the 90’s as well. While the weekly readership may be shrinking, the readership as a whole has probably been growing due to cost, availability in areas other than the direct market, and convenience in getting a whole story at once as opposed to segmented parts that may or may not lead to something good at their conclusion.

    1. My guess is IH14 as well. And if it does have a secret variant it’s going to be pandamomium…as I must have one. I’ll likely be taking time off work to hit some shops that day if it is IH. Seek out some Naomi #1s too.

      Here I thought it was going to be a quite week…

  2. Love these secret variants. Does a comic shop need to buy a certain amount of copies to qualify for a secret variant?

    1. I honk shops are tipped off too, as most will pull them out and put it in a special location at the counter marked up to whatever the market value is that morning. Venom 7 was around $15 when my lcs opened. I hesitate to think what a Ross immortal hulk might fetch early.

      But aren’t these secret variants computer generated art which just swaps out part of the cover? Does Ross use a computer? If he doesn’t, not sure IH14 is a candidate.

      1. You have a loud second honk from this collector. I have spoke openly to a couple shop owners that they are taking the fun out of it. I dont mind markup on ratios to recoup, but the first few days should be open game for the regular issues. I could rant on this “looking a gift horse in the mouth/biting the hand that feeds you” scenario for too long. Thanks Agent P for the platform.

        1. I think at least the first week should be cover price for regulars. If I owned and ran a shop, that would be my minimal. Contrary to belief, there are people who buy comics to read them and do not care about the value or collectibility of them. If a shop thinks a book is heating up or already has, pull 1 or 2 copies aside for later I say instead of marking them all up.

          1. I think Batgirl 23 suffered this tactic….a lot of shops claimed being cut short on their orders for that particular issue…..A LOT of shops….I came across shops that also claimed they got cut short on Immortal Hulk 13 also….

            It’s fine to pull aside extra copies..they have the right…as long as they are not pulling them out of people’s pull list orders…

        2. I meant *think*…not *honk*…but after reading what I posted back to myself a few times, I think honk is much more fitting. I’ll do more honking than thinking.

          Honk if you like (or love) Comics Heating Up.Net!!!!

  3. If you want a Captain Marvel movie variant without the Amanda Connor cover, you have to pick up the “Captain Marvel Start Here Sampler 2019 No. 1” as per the indica page, aka Marvel Free Previews from a couple of weeks ago.

  4. For the secret variant, my guess would be either Avengers (Captain Marvel related) or Immortal Hulk (because its the current hot Marvel book).

      1. Yeah, I tried to look over the covers to see which one would be easily redone.. I think it’s Skrulls or maybe Champions with Ms. Marvel on the front, a lot of white space there to add something else or just add different color.

  5. I’m leaning towards Meet the Skrulls #1. It’s regular cover is sort of setup for a variant with the broken glass depicted in the image. They could easily make a secret variant that doesn’t have broken glass and shows their human faces.. but that’s just my guess.

  6. Why is 20,000 monthly readers bad for a 3rd tier character? The top books sell around 100,000. And the readership hasnt declined that much in overall sales of floppies, from year to year. Compared to other forms of print, id say comics are doing well. If you have 50 titles out that average 20,000 per issue (looking at you Marvel), thats 1,000,000 books a month. More when you include the A list characters like Spidey, Avengers et al thst sell weel above the 20,000 number. And even more sales due to bi weekly titles. It is a decent revenue stream for Disney. Considering that comics is one big advertisement and development cog for their highly successful movie franchises.

    1. True but look at the issues that hit 100k…. Sometimes they have 2 to 8 variant covers, all to just boost their publishing numbers.

      The comic industry is the starting point for their movies in Marvels case but think about this, if 20 million people are seeing a movie based on a character, 20k comics is minuscule in comparison.

      The amount of people involved with Marvel books or DC each title and every month…. They’re not really making money off their comics after all the bills are paid if you ask me. They probably make more money from the advertisements within the books than the books themselves.

      1. Yes, some 100k titles have 7-8 variants. But some only have 2, and those are typically bi weekly.

        Yes, 20k is a small fraction of 20M, but that is apples and oranges, imo. Its a lot easier to watch a 2 hour movie, once s month, for $15-$20, than it is to spend $100 a month on comics and have to go to your LCS once a week (I understand you could go less with pulls and/or online orders).

        Disney may not be increasing the bottom line with comics, but the resources that are internally and externally provided are priceless. The story boards and ideas for the movies, the advertising of the characters and other ads within the books. The buzz that they create within the community. The comic division is, imo, certainly not a financial drag to the Disney Corporate Juggernaut, even if they aren’t directly lining the investors pockets w/ the paper product in any manner.

        1. 330,000,000 people in the United States 7.5 billion in the world 20k print runs and even 100k print runs are nothing. Even if you sell 400k copies of comics every week (all titles together) after costs to print and artist fees there can’t be a lot of meat left on the bone.

          1. There are zero people on Mars. Its better to earn money from the comics (advertising and development) then to have to straight out pay for those commodities. Its a great model, imo. Im 40. Comics will not go out of print in my lifetime. So any convo about the ‘death of the industry’ is an argument that is meaninglessness to me, as I believe it wont happen in my lifetime.

            1. I don’t either. I’m just acknowledging that numbers are likely down to what they would want them to be at. It would be nice if the publishers who are claiming such things shared more info regarding the stats they’re using to justify their claims.

              1. It’s across the board magazines and newspapers numbers are way down. Certain magazines and newspapers have gone belly up it’s not a stretch to believe it could happen in the comic industry. We all know the mouse likes his money and Disney sells more mouse ears in a year about 1million-1.5million from each park than it does comics.

                1. Youve missed my point, Alana. The comics are a resource to Disney, not a financial burden. And yes, a lot of print media is dying or dead. But not comics. 2 years ago, when all other forms of print were drowning, comic books had an increase (slight, but an increase non the less. Thos year, the overall sales of Floppies were down 1.7% from last year. I beg you to show me another form of print media that is as stable as comics have been over the last decade. I stand by my opinion that I will not be alive to see the end of printed comic books.

    1. We should start a poll. The ones
      Who guess it right will be entered into a raffle/drawing to win said comic (if more than one vote cast).

      I volunteer Poyo to organize the give away/contest including acquiring the secret variant to be given away.

      That would be awesomesauce.

  7. “Bet one for bad, two for good.” Thanks Ray, I wil put my two down for Skrulls having it. Monthly issued comics may to be too “slow” for the Millenials. Their poor brains are struggling with attention span.

  8. As a shop owner for over 40 years, I could write a thesis on the ebb and flow of the business over the years ..

    In 2017, the US book publishing industry generated an estimated $26.23 billion in net revenue / 2.72 billion units .. these are actual books, fiction / non-fiction / instructional, etc .. so, no, paper is not dead ..

    Let’s say the “average” discount for a shop is 45% .. that $3.99 cover price book costs the shop $2.19 .. Diamond takes a profit off the top as the Middleman .. what’s left is what a publisher nets, after printing costs / creator costs / etc .. so, there is not a huge amount of money to be made on a per book basis ..

    Then, consider the death of the Newsstand Market .. where any place that cared to stock comics could get a good load each week on a returnable basis .. if you did not sell copies and did not want to keep them as backstock, you stripped the cover and gave it back to the distributor, who then credited your account for the cost, basically allowing a shop to stock books with no risk ..

    These days, a Retailers order from Diamond, with some exceptions, is non-returnable .. thus, many shops these days rely on Variants, etc, in order to make up the money lost on unsold “other” books that end up in the Buck Bin .. I’ve never subscribed to that philosophy, I’m not going to order 50 copies of this or that in order to get 1 of a Variant .. it’s just not good business ..

    Today, shops tend to order closer to what they know they can actually sell .. because it can get expensive to do large backstock, in a World where the per book price has risen .. this is exactly what helps fuel the spec market, when a book gets heat and was initially ordered in lower quantities ..

    Consider the continued escalation of the Cover Price .. it’s normal for things to cost more, sure .. but there does reach a point where a Consumer says, “Well, I’d like to keep collecting, but $3.99 and up for a book is just not in the budget anymore ..”

    Next, we are evolving into a more and more convenience based Consumer .. folks that simply don’t want to go and get something, and like GrubHub, Amazon, and any other place that will bring it to the door immediately .. perhaps the future of the Comic Industry is in Immediate Delivery Service for those that Jones for a Comic and want it right now without stepping out the door .. now, if I could just think of a snappy name .. 😉

    In the early ’90’s, shops sprang up like weeds .. you could make a good living off Comics and Trading Cards alone .. these days, Trading Cards are dead and Comics are no where near what they were back then .. a Shop must handle a diverse selection of related material such as Gaming, MTG, toys that Walmart does not sell and unique related items .. Shops must also be active buyers of material they can sell and I believe getting involved within the Local Community Library Programs or anything an owner can do to promote growth of their Market ..

    I’m old and not Hustling by doing the Con circuit, etc, anymore (long boxes got heavy) .. but, it’s also an important segment ..

    I could go on .. sadly, I will end this by simply saying that, it’s probably not the greatest idea these days to open a new shop .. it has to be a real Labor of Love and you’ll need a pretty good pile of money to “Outwit, Outlast and Outplay” ..

    1. Most if not all of the shops in the Austin area are also gaming shops nowadays. ABC is an exception but they split their gaming store off into it’s own shop right behind the main comic store. They also have the Guzu gallery which caters to art, posters and other merchandise that the Walmarts and Targets don’t carry, etc.

      So yeah, I get ya. I would love to own a shop myself but I won’t do it, too much work I think. I’d have to win the lotto and run it as a hobby more than a business.

      1. Mr Poyo :: I ended up outlining more than I expected .. yet, one thing that I did not mention is :: During the Newsstand Era, those books did count on the Monthly print run totals for the Industry .. and Newsstand books were quite prolific .. that goes Hand in Hand with your commentary within the piece and should be noted ..

        Although there has been a contraction in the Market going on for a while now, one of the reasons we’ll never see the Hey Day return is the loss of Newsstand distribution ..

        As well, Newsstand distribution did help fuel the growth of the Industry back in the day, since folks ran across comic racks when they were out and about and did not have to go to a Specialty Retailer in order to seek them out ..

        1. Yeah, totally true. I wonder if Marvel and DC got more retailers (like Walmart and Target, B&N and other book stores) to carry comics again, wonder if this would fuel more interest? I think that’s why one reason eBay thrives for comics. A lot of people don’t live near comic shops that carry back issues and some don’t even live near shops that carry new issues.

          1. I have absolutely no doubt at all that a return to more Mass Marketing / Newsstand would, in fact, expand the Market substantially .. exposing more Young People .. my Dad bought me my first comic off a Rack at the Woolworths in the 1950’s ..

            Of course, the return of “Returnability” would be required in order to entice the sellers to stock .. like Magazines still are, I believe ..

            As well, the Infrastructure is still in place .. I believe it would be a boost for Comic Shops also .. since Newsstand generally sits on the rack for about a month and is then rotated out .. so, New Customers would likely seek out any Local Comic Shop ..

          2. The Maui comic shop moved into the mall so either they are doing really well or mall space rent is doing really bad. They get a lot more foot traffic, the store had about 12 people in it and not the normal Wednesday warriors I see every week.

            1. I’m surprised the two “traditional” malls we have here in Austin are still around. I can only imagine the rent is super cheap in them just to keep shops around. We have the what’s called the “Domain” but it’s not your typical mall and it’s all over priced anyways. I only goto the iPic theater to see some movies in the luxurious theater when you want your nearest neighbor 5 feet away from you.

  9. 99% sure the secret variant is Meet the Skrulls. Back when it was first announced, Marvel tweeted a gif that was basically the regular cover except they were all in human form and then it changed to all in skrull form. The regular cover with the broken picture frame is a mashup of both the images from the gif. So, it’s possible there could be two secret variants I guess. Reg cover = broken frame with skrull/human mashup, Secret 1 = All Humans, Secret 2 = All Skrulls

  10. Here’s what I don’t like tonight…

    Got an email from unknowncomicbooks…now you can get some of the variant covers from DC for Tech 1000 wih FOIL covers…of course it’ll cost you $45….really? The print run is already through the roof, and now foil covers?

    Also, got an email from Frankie’s comics moments ago…apparently the Hulk 181 facsimile edition comes with a variant cover or blank cover….

    Really? Variant covers for facsimiles now? What’s the point in a facsimile edition if any part of it doesn’t replicate he original?

    Shaking my head. What a waste.

        1. I get it, a blank on a Hulk 181 to get some artist to doodle on is awesome but it should have been on another edition, not the facsimile one. Good idea, poor execution I think.

  11. The doom and gloom parade is getting old. There are more comic shops in North America today than there were 15 years ago. Older shops closing is always a news story that gets shared, but new shops opening rarely are, and there have been 60-80 new shops opening every year for a decade.

    January 2019 was the best January for comic sales in nominal dollars since Diamond became the exclusive distributor, exceeding even January 2015 which was propped up by the 1-million-copy Star Wars #1. Over 7,000,000 units sold to retailers during the month, up 4% from January 2018 and back in the range of the best Januarys of the last decade.

    The industry has plenty of problems, and I sincerely hope that some of them change. It would be nice if Marvel stopped the weekly launch nonsense that requires me to blindly order issue #5 before I see sales from issue #2. It would be nice if DC hadn’t lied to its Black Label creators about their freedom to create. It would be nice if Marvel didn’t rely on incentive covers to prop up sales of middling titles. It would be nice if DC took a page from Image and required their miniseries creators to have X number of issues in the can before the first issue was released (delays on Doomsday Clock, Raven, Mister Miracle, etc make those books much harder to sell).

    1. I wish most publishers took it a step further than the 3 issues.. don’t publish a title until an entire first arc is completed. If it’s a mini-series, have it 90% done (like last minute coloring, edits and lettering) before you start publishing..

      1. It’s particularly frustrating because Image has shown how well it works. Image used to be the worst of the major publishers about shipping delays (back when it was also the worst for having stories worth reading). But Kirkman et al put the hammer down and told creators that it’s fine if you can’t do 12 issues a year, but we won’t solicit a story arc until you have so much in the can that it will guaranteed ship on time. I have no trouble at all explaining to customers that a title is going on hiatus for 6-12 months. Customers deal with that from tv shows all the time and it’s fine. Waiting for another “season” is par for the course. But when Doomsday Clock 9 is arriving tomorrow, and it was solicited in November, that’s a 2-month delay on a title that was already switched to every other month. It’s still better than John Wick (issue 5 solicited November 2017 and finally arrived last week), but it’s frustrating for customers who want to be excited about a story and feel like they are getting lied to every month.

        1. Image is still pretty bad about delays. Sure they pump out those first 3 issues but sometimes you never see that title again..

          Honestly, I think the only major publisher that meets most if it’s deadlines is Marvel but they have all kinds of money to spend on project planning and management.

  12. These threads of informed and experienced comic folks are another example why CHU kicks ass. Thank you for your input. That One Guy brings up something Ive noticed here….comic/gaming shops are doing alright. Five in a medium metropolitan area. However, we may have the highest rate of Trustafarians per capita, thereby altering the data somewhat.

        1. It’s actually Ziggy Pig Silly Seal Comics. The cover with them on the raft. The regular cover has them with a map of Latveria. The secret variant is a map of sh!ts creek.

  13. You know, I made it to the shop today and I was gonna score one of those secret variants to giveaway. But the shop didn’t order any Ziggy books. Zero! I even asked them and they were like, umm.. we saw the title and was like, nope!

    So no secret variant giveaway.. sorry, I tried!

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